Iran rejects U.N. inspectors’ return to country

Iran on Friday rebuffed U.N. inspectors after they sought to return to the country to resume their work on monitoring the country’s nuclear activities in light of the 2015 nuclear deal with the United States.

During a meeting with the U.N. nuclear watchdog in Vienna, Iran said that it did not believe the inspectors could handle the scope of their work and said they should instead be sent to Tehran, the Wall Street Journal reported.

The comment is a blow to U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who had said last month that the International Atomic Energy Agency could visit the country to monitor Tehran’s nuclear facilities.

“They won’t be getting much cooperation,” Peter Stockton, the former chief inspector for the United Nations Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, told the Journal. “Iran’s a pretty tough nut to crack.”

Under the 2015 deal, Iran is granted sanctions relief in exchange for curbs on its nuclear program. But President Trump has called the agreement a bad deal, prompting Washington to re-impose sanctions. He has also pulled out of the agreement and offered to re-negotiate, and Congress recently introduced new sanctions on Iran.

In the Journal report, Iranian officials said that the IAEA had made little progress on the inspection requests.

“On one hand, they said they can inspect, but on the other hand, they made a couple of counter-claims,” Hamid Baeidinejad, deputy head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization, said.

He added that Iran is willing to work with the IAEA if the inspectors worked in “a more cordial, acceptable way,” and expressed hope that the United States would respect the deal.

“The American administration was wrong,” Mr. Baeidinejad said. “They said it is a bad deal. It is in the interest of both sides, and they cannot deny that now.”

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